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Reply #6: Faith-based aid is unconstitutional, not sure how much money goes to the prisons. [View All]

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-29-09 12:15 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Faith-based aid is unconstitutional, not sure how much money goes to the prisons.
This is an interesting summary by Susan Jacoby. I think Bush's faith-based initiatives are unchanged in this administration, even the faith-based hiring.

From Newsweek WP

Faith-Based Aid Is Unconstitutional, Period

Dozens of major religious groups and denominations are urging Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to renounce a Bush-era memo that allows faith-based charities that receive federal funding to discriminate in hiring. Should religious charities that receive federal grant money be allowed to discriminate in hiring?

Absolutely not. But this question cuts to the heart of the unconstitutionality of all government-supported faith-based programs since Bill Clinton inadvisedly opened the door to a violation of the First Amendment that would have been inconceivable in earlier periods of American history. George W. Bush expanded the program to bolster his standing with the religious right, and President Obama is just as beholden to the religious left. To require any religious institution to hire people who do not agree with and represent its principles is absurd. That is why the government should not be in the business of funneling money for social services through any faith-based organization, whatever its hiring practices.

This is not only my position as a secular civil libertarian. It is also the position of honest religious leaders, like the Rev. Albert H. Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. For Mohler, it is unthinkable that Baptists should compromise their religious principles--such as their mission to proselytize for Christianity--in order to receive federal grants. Therefore, understandably enough, he opposes the acceptance of government aid by churches. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints has taken the same position.

But a lot of faith-based groups want to have their federal cake and eat it too. Charles W. Colson's prison programs bombard prisoners with fundamentalist propaganda in return for certain privileges, such as access to big-screen televisions and the possibility of early parole. Many homeless shelters require the hungry to attend worship services in return for food and a bed. I don't blame them for this, by the way. There is no reason to expect the Roman Catholic Church to sponsor pregnancy counseling programs that advise girls about contraception and abortion rights. There is no reason to expect right-wing churches dedicated to the proposition that homosexuals are going to hell to hire someone who supports gay rights for an AIDS-prevention program. That, again, is why such programs are unconstitutional, although they will never be declared unconstitutional unless we get a fifth person on the Supreme Court who respects the separation of church and state.


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